The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

David McCullough

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 1416571779

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The #1 bestseller that tells the remarkable story of the generations of American artists, writers, and doctors who traveled to Paris, the intellectual, scientific, and artistic capital of the western world, fell in love with the city and its people, and changed America through what they learned, told by America’s master historian, David McCullough.

Not all pioneers went west.

In The Greater Journey, David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band. Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the US Senate. Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three of the greatest American artists ever—sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.

Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune. His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.

Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’ phrase, longed “to soar into the blue.”

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for the pedestal. For a while White stayed overnight at the apartment, until he found a place of his own. McKim lingered only a little while before returning to New York. Then White headed off again to see more of France, and returned bringing superb sketches he had done of landscapes, houses, street scenes, and cathedrals inside and out. Then it was back to work with Saint-Gaudens, their efforts marking the start of collaborations to come on some twenty projects. Gussie appears to have welcomed

234–35, 336 Saint-Gaudens’s portraits of, 430, 435 Lionel Lincoln (Cooper), 71 Lisfranc, Jacques, 112–13, 114, 132 Lister, Joseph, 113 Liszt, Franz, 10, 165 Little Bighorn, Battle of, 350 Little Wolf, 168–69, 171, 174–75 Locust Grove, 231–32 Lointier, 94 Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 7, 33–34, 36, 197, 198–99, 218, 224, 227, 228, 230, 235, 329, 336, 424 Longsword, William, 23–24 Lorrain, Claude, 90 Lorraine, 303 Louis, Pierre-Charles-Alexandre, 105–6, 118, 130, 134–36, 192, 424

for them. As much as he enjoyed such attention and acclaim, Cooper was far from enamored with “the mere butterflies” of Paris society. Taken by Lafayette to be “presented,” he found King Louis-Philippe perfectly courteous and was glad to hear him speak with pleasure of his time in America. But for others he encountered, Cooper had little use. “The fear of losing their butterfly distinctions and their tinsel gives great uneasiness to many of these simpletons,” he wrote privately. Yet Cooper

French and financial concerns notwithstanding. Last night we were at Mr. Walsh’s [Robert Walsh, the American consul in Paris]. The party was large. Among those present were the venerable Humboldt … M. de Tocqueville … some of the DeKalb family whose French ancestors rendered gallant services in our Revolution, and others of note in French society. Many of our own country, including ladies, were there. … There was much intellectual conversation, and much that was sprightly, with music at

the repulsive revolution.”) With the fighting ended, Rush, like thousands of others, set off to view the “battlefield,” to find that, the battlefield being Paris, the dead and wounded had been taken away as they fell. Only the barricades and houses shattered by cannonballs or riddled by musket fire stood as evidence of the havoc and slaughter. The great boulevards looked like abandoned encampments. “Scattered wisps of hay and the litter of cavalry, horses tied to iron palisades, detachments of

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